Tuesday 23 April 2013

Apple cider cake

Last year, Sylvia undertook her first research project.  She asked all the kids and teachers at her child care centre what was their favourite cake.  One of the teachers wrote down the answers.  I was surprised at the variety of cakes nominated.  Most of all I was surprised to hear that Sylvia's favourite type of cake was apple.  What!  Not chocolate!

Apples are in season.  Time to bake apple cakes.
If you look at the cake recipes in my index you might notice how much I love chocolate cakes.  If you look at my Pinterest sweet board you may notice quite a few apple cakes.  It seems I bookmark many apple cakes but don't bake that many.  It has taken me some time as an adult to come to appreciate apple cakes.  Now that I know Sylvia loves them, I have many good intentions to bake more.  Last week I made a superb apple cake that was delicious despite many problems in making it.

Apples stewed in apple cider
I was initially attracted to the Apple Cider Cake on Jen's Delicieux blog.  It looked gorgeous with the apples arranged on top like a rose.  I admire many photos of cakes but once I see the recipe I often lose interest.  This one was different.  I have been seeking a recipe for an apple cake that has the apples cooked once before baking and then again when the cake bakes in the oven.  This recipe had apple slices cooked in apple cider and spices before being added to the cake.

Pile of apples to arrange on top of cake.
One of my main problems with making this cake was deciding not to follow my gut instinct.  Firstly I thought 6 apples a lot for a cake.  But I chopped them and cooked them and tried to sort out the most cooked third and blended that into an applesauce.  I again ignored my instinct again when the cup of applesauce seemed too much.  I tipped it in and added some extra flour because the batter was so loose.  After creaming the flour, I also added the flour before the egg in a moment of distraction.  It was one of those days.

Pile of apples after arranging a lot of apples on top of the cake.  Still a lot to fit in there!  Not all of it ended up on the cake.
I loved the appearance of Jen's cake with the apples arranged on top.  I can't remember at what point I suspected I should have sliced the apples more thickly but when it came to arranging flimsy little slices, I was sure they were too thin.  This might explain why I had too many slices of apple (see two above photos).  As I was ready to put the cake in the oven, I looked at how full the cake tin was.  Too full.  I ignored my gut instinct and baked it anyway.

Apples arranged on top of the cake.  Too many?  The cake tin was definitely too full.
Midway through baking, I turned the tin around and saw that cake mixture had risen over the sides of the edge and fallen onto the oven floor.  Too late, I put a tray under the cake tin to catch any more drips.  By the time the cake came out of the oven it had lost its good looks.  I was too disheartened to bother with a glaze.  E made a comment about sci-fi movies and craters on the moon.

Not the prettiest cake.
So much had gone wrong with the cake.  Yet, for all the problems, we all loved it.  Sylvia did.  Phew!  She often tells me she loves apple cake.  Even E enjoyed it, despite not usually liking fruit in cakes.  My mum visited and loved it.  It is just the sort of cake I have been searching for with the soft melting apples on top.  I left out most of the spices and made a few more subsitutions.  The apples had just enough subtle flavour for my tastes. 

Ugly but delicious!
I had initially decided not to post about this cake.  Then when we loved it so much, I decided that my notes here on what I did will be very helpful for me to develop the recipe and hopefully might help others who are searching for their own perfect apple cake.  After all, despite all the problems, this may just be the best apple cake I have ever baked!

I am sending this cake to Roz of the More Than Occasional Baker for the Alphabakes challenge that she runs with Caroline of Caroline Makes.  Each month they choose a letter for key ingredients and this month it is the letter A.  A for apple!

Other apple cakes on Green Gourmet Giraffe blog:
Apple and date cake (lumberjack cake)
Apple fruit cake
Caramel apple cake with quince paste
Cheese and apple cake
Cranana cake
Twice cooked apple cake

Apple cakes I would love to bake:
Apple blondies - Then Kitchen Maid
Apple pecan and gingerbread cake - Vegie Mix
Caramel apple layer cake with apple cider frosting - a hint of honey
Chocolate chip apple cake - Peas and Thanks You
Deb's mom's apple cake - Smitten Kitchen
Dorset apple cake with caramel chocolate - Chocolate Log Blog
GF Honey apple cake - timesunion.com
Hazelnut apple cake - Vanilla Garlic
Honey apple date walnut olive oil cake - Cook Eat Live Vegetarian
Maple pecan apple cake - how2heroes
Rima's walnut and apple cake - Wandering Spice
Vanessa's GF chocolate and apple cake - Not Quite Nigella

Apple cider cake
Adapted from Delicieux

  • 6 large Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced (next time I will use 4-5 apples which will be thickly sliced)
  • 1 cup (250ml) apple cider (non-alcoholic)
  • 1/2 cup castor sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 cinnamon quill
  • 1 cup white plain flour (I added 1 cup rather than 1/2 cup due to too much applesauce)
  • 1/2 cup wholemeal plain flour
  • 1/2 cup almond meal
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 100g Nuttalex margarine
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup no-fat yoghurt
To cook the apples:

Put topping ingredients in a medium saucepan, bring to the boil and simmer about 3 to 4 minutes until just tender.  (I misread the recipe and didn't see that I was meant to bring the cider, sugar, vanillla and cinnamon to the boil before adding apples.)  Remove about 1/3 of the apples with a slotted spoon.  Blend to make an applesauce.  Mine made about 1 cup but I think I only needed half as much for the cake.  Set aside remaining apple slices.

To make the cake:

Preheat the oven to 180 C and grease and line a 22cm tin.  (My tin was too small for my batter so next time maybe a bigger one.)

Beat butter (or margarine in my case) and sugar in a large mixing bowl (I used a spoon rather than electric beaters).  Add eggs  (I actually added flour before the eggs but that was due to distraction as I usually would add eggs here.) and then 1 cup (but only 1/2 cup next time) apple sauce, beating to mix well.  Gently stir in flours, almond meal, baking powder and bicarb of soda.  Lastly stir in yoghurt until just combined.

Scrape the batter into the prepared tin.  Arrange circles of the apple slices (drained of the liquid) on the top of the cake, starting at the middle of the cake and working your way outwards.  I baked mine for 1 hour and 30 minutes but if my batter hadn't been so wet it might have taken closer to the original 30-35 minutes.  A skewer inserted in the middle will come out clean when cakse is cooked.

[The original recipe also suggested reducing the reserved apple cider mixture to a syrup to glaze the warm cake but I didn't do this.]

On the Stereo:
Time Stands Still: the Collection: Rush


    1. Nice! Glad it worked out in the end. Sometimes I think things taste even better when you expect them to be a flop... I've done the pretty apple cake too, but sliced mine thinner. You can see it here: http://tastespace.wordpress.com/2009/10/18/apple-banana-cake-a-triple-threat/

      1. Thanks Janet - your cake looks very pretty - far more successful than mine - yes relief is always a great way to whet your appetite :-)

    2. Lovely cake! It looks like it turned out well and I bet its delicious too.

    3. oh my - this looks so moist and delicious!!!!

      1. Thanks Lisa - am sure the wet batter made it so soft

    4. I almost laughed out loud when I scrolled down to the second-last photo! It's like a wave of batter cresting over the cake. :-D

      It may not look 'pretty' but it looks really, really tasty.

      1. Thanks Cindy - it would have been more impressive if the wave had baked as it curled over the edge of the cake rather than dropped onto the floor of my oven :-)

    5. I bet it still tasted awesome though! And I think taste is the most important thing :D

      1. Thanks Lorraine - if I had a choice I would choose taste over pretty any day (which might explain my cooking!)

    6. I like Sylvia's taste in cakes! Apple has always been my favourite type of cake although I rarely ever bake them. What a shame it didn't turn out perfect after all of your efforts with the presentation. Hope you managed to clean up the oven mess, that's never a fun job!

      1. Thanks Mel - I did have high hopes but maybe it was just a good learning process! I was a bit half hearted about cleaning the oven because it is not my favourite job but need to give it a really good clean soon

    7. It may not be the most perfectly baked cake, but it looks fabulous! Bet it was packed with apple flavour. Love its rustic appearance. You could charge big bucks for that in a deli

      1. Thanks Katie - I am quite happy for my food to look rustic and would definitely pay big bucks for a slice of this cake :-)

    8. Oh, lovely! Ugly cakes are sometimes the best :-) I am the opposite of you in that I make far more apple cakes than chocolate - they are definitely amongst my favourite baked good choice. I've never made one like this though, so I'll have to tuck this away to try next time.

      1. Thanks Kari - if you love apple cakes, I highly recommend this style of cake - I particularly love that the appearance (if you get it right) means you don't need any decoration or frosting

      2. Amazingly for me (!), I am going from seeing something to making something in the space of just a few weeks. However - I can't find non-alcoholic apple cider?! Do you recall where you found yours? I'm thinking I may need to use basic apple juice if I don't turn anything else up.

      3. hi kari - I used a sparkling apple juice - I think it was devondale but I think any apple juice would work.

      4. Thank you! I nearly went with sparkling but used regular apple juice with a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in the end. I'm glad I was on the right track - and by the smell of the house the cake is on the right track too :)

      5. can't wait to see it - if it smells good then am sure it will taste delicious

    9. I think this cake looks great - the overflow doesn't matter. And like Sylvia, I love apple cakes!

      1. Thanks Cakelaw - it wasn't too bad considering - interesting that so many comments are apple lovers but not in Sylvia's survey :-)

    10. It still looks attractive - arranging the apple slices on the top like that is a great idea. Glad to hear it was tasty - I always think it's worth sharing the things that don't quite work as well as the perfect ones. It shows we're all learning!

    11. I'm so glad you decided to share this with us and send it to AlphaBakes. It looks really impressive and I'm sure it tasted great too!

    12. What a little cutie. I love apple cake too but my favourite will always be chocolate cake. You made it look really beautiful too. I always struggle to get that apple swirl :)

    13. That cake looks great, almost like a flower and I like the use of the apple cider!


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